A friend told me to go down to a little pub called the Benny’s Boat Saloon. Biggest fucking mirror in town.
Pool tables clustered by pastel polo shirts and popped collars. They’re killing time until the beerpong tournament at 10. A roar of ‘OH!’ and ‘SHIT!’ and ‘TEABAGGING YOUR FUCKING FAGGY ASS’ erupts every time a player sinks a shot, or barely misses. I wish I were kidding — The same exclamations.
The bar itself is somewhere between a old west saloon and a soda fountain. The stools that line the bar are stationary brushed metal femurs topped by candy red, glittery red toadstools. And their backline is a dark stained wood bar worn by shot after shot of lost whiskey. Two library stacks of liquor bottles were on each side of the gigantic mirror. HRD to Jose — they’re all there. Between them was a step-stack of liquor bottles, evenly spaced. These are the prized possessions. There’s some Don Julio, some Glen 15, and a liquor named Kleine Feichling among dusty dark bottles with faded labels. No doubt folks have walked out of here trashed only to wake up hours later with a three digit tab in their pockets.
Top shelf — a misnomer as it only reaches about half way between the bold white painted B and N that bookend the huge oval mirror.
A pirate ship in a gallon jug looms above the top shelf liquor and in front of the enormous Benny’s Boat Saloon mirror. You can barely read it the decal. And I may be the second in history to have seen it.
Mary in a mirror.
Benny’s Boat. Aurora, OR. I say it extra slow in my head to acknowledge its span.
Places with names like that better have a story or I’m never coming back. The possessive form tells me that Benny better own that ship in a bottle above the top shelf liquor. That or the owner’s son went sailing to the San Juan islands only to arrive there, and to vanish into thin air after the first night. The only remnant of him was his boat, still tethered to the dock.
I’ve already written the pitch to the networks.
The stout man behind the bar looks like a dealer off of a gambling steamship. I see what they did there. His mustache is waxed to spearlike points that curl up toward his bright grey eyes.
What’ll it be?
It wasn’t that loud, chief. I ask for a Pendleton-coke.
Ah. A fine choice.
He better work as an auctioneer for his day job.
Or at a circus.
I imagine his head wet from the gaping maw of a lion, and am interrupted by a clinking short dark icy drink rocking to and fro in the glas. Not a drip on the bar.
There you are.
I nod. Thanks.
I don’t normally meet people like this. I think I’m nervous. I was told to go to this bar, order a drink, and wait. I asked how they would know who I was. I was told not to worry. Like being told ‘maybe’ when asking someone out on a date. Maddening.
But it wasn’t before the first smokey sip of my drink passed my lips that a vise grip caught my free arm. I almost spill my drink. I am spinning to ask the person what the big idea is. Then I see a bony finger in front of two zipped lips. The grip on my arm loosened.
He sat on the shiny toadstool next to me. I couldn’t blink. I was pissed.
He held up a small white card. The black, perfectly centered, impossibly small type asked:
Can you read English fluently?
I cock an eyebrow. He cocks an eyebrow. I nod. And am about to lace into him again.
His finger whips in front of his pursed lips again. He seemed to turn the volume down for the whole circus. Popped collars in fuzzy muffled bassy tones.
His card flipped over between his index and middle fingers expertly. The brick of small type filled the back of the card save a small box of white space near the top.
Write your cellphone number in the space provided.
I will contact you with a number. Use it to order. When you order you will not say anything other than ‘Do you want to play some games?’ ‘Don’t you hate the radio?’ and ‘Are you free?’ The first is for an order. The second is to meet. The final should only be used if our relationship is in danger. Remember each verbatim. When you have done so, look at me in the eyes and say ‘I don’t remember.’
He insistently waves the card at me. I put two fingers on it and realize my eyebrow is aching from being raised for so long. I see my reflection in those dark black sunglasses and ask ‘Who the fu–?’
I only noticed that the card had been yanked from my fingertips when they started to burn. I looked to see if they were on fire and was disappointed to realize this dude had really knew how to take something back. I didn’t even get the satisfaction of finishing the expletive it was so fast.
The door to the bar shut. Dust was pulled off of the top shelf bottles.
I was looking just above the top shelf, and gaze into neglect by rarity.
And somewhere far away a popped collar screams FUCKING FAG, FUCKING TEABAGGED YOU!
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